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Jenkins losing $18,000 per month because of leaks

The Jenkins City Council learned that city water lines are leaking money as well as treated water in its December meeting. Tim Blanton of Kentucky Rural Water told the council the city is losing approximately $18,000 a month in revenue because of water leaks in a system with water lines dating back to 1908. Blanton said when new lines were added in the in 1950s and again in 1970, the old lines weren’t disconnected and many of the leaks will be untraceable without adding cut-off valves to isolate various parts of the system. Blanton and City Engineer Paul Nesbitt both recommended a study to implement rate restructuring as well.

Nesbitt told the council that under the current rate structure, the cost for the first 2,000 gallons is relatively high at $14, but the city then loses money on the next 8,000 gallons, charging $1 per each 1,000 gallons. Nesbitt said it costs the city between $1.75 and $3 per 1,000 gallons to produce water so it loses money after the initial 2,000 gallons.

“After somebody goes past 2,000 gallons, you’re losing money on them,” said Nesbitt. “You’re not making money, you’re losing money.”

Nesbitt said Kentucky Rural Water has people who are expert in analyzing water and sewer rates and recommended the city engage their services to analyze Jenkins’s rates. Nesbitt said that Whitesburg, which is comparable in size to the Jenkins system, has a lower initial rate but charges high-end users, those typically using past 5,000 gallons per month, at a considerably higher rate. Blanton said most communities with city-owned water systems have a similar structure. He also said water losses are costing the citizens of Jenkins a good deal of money and recommended the city try to dedicate one or two city workers to do nothing but work on locating and repairing water leaks.

Blanton told the council the city needs to set aside approximately $5,000 for materials and have the workers not only replace water lines which have more than one splice in them, but begin to install valves which will allow them to isolate particular areas so they can find leaks and after finding them, repair them without shutting larger areas down. Nesbitt also told the council it will soon be necessary to either rebuild or replace the water treatment plant. He recommended redoing the plant rather than replacing it.

Council member Linda Baldwin said the citizens of Jenkins can’t continue to bear the brunt of the city’s water losses. Council member Chuck Anderson added that with losses averaging $18,000 a month, $5,000 is a small price to pay to move toward alleviating the situation. Blanton said if the city will follow his approach he believes it can reduce its average monthly loss of treated water to between 10 and 15 percent within a year and have better maps and charts as well. The monthly unaccounted loss for November was 54.2 percent of all treated water (7,886,200 gallons) produced by the city. It was 62.9 percent in October.

Nesbitt also discussed an ongoing plan to run water lines from the water tank at the Gateway Industrial Park to residents of Payne Gap. Nesbitt said Abandoned Mine Lands has agreed to do a study to determine if Payne Gap would be eligible for funding under its guidelines. He said he is confident AML will find the area eligible and that Jenkins could add over 200 customers without incurring any bond debt. The Fleming-Neon sewer plant would serve the area.

In a related matter, Mayor Charles Dixon announced that the water will be off in Jenkins on Thursday, December 6, starting around 11 a.m. from near Wrights Market to Marshall’s Branch in order to install new valves. It will be off again on Saturday, December 8, in the same area. Dixon also said that although there have been recent rains, there are still drought conditions in Jenkins and the lake is down considerably because an auxiliary pump which pumps water into the reservoir is down for repairs and he requested citizens conserve water whenever possible.

In other business, the council conducted the second reading of Ordinance #136, which will raise rates for city stickers from $8 to $10 effective January 1. In the Mayor’s Report, Dixon announced that city stickers will go on sale for the coming year on December 4 and enforcement will begin on January 31. There will be a $20 fine for those without city stickers. After the ordinance was read, council member Terry Braddock moved that the ordinance not go into effect and the rates remain the same, but his motion died for lack of a second.

Dixon also announced plans to offer annexation to citizens of McPeeks Branch, Mossy Bottom, and areas along US 23. He also expressed a desire to incorporate Joes Branch, Cane Branch and the upper part of Dairy Hollow.

The council also: • Voted unanimously to provide either a turkey or ham to each city employee for the holidays.

• Declined to change the 911 designation of Snapp Lane on Lakeside.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance which will keep the city in compliance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance regulations.

• Declined to accept a $34,480 bid from Royalty Construction to extend sidewalks to Jenkins High School. The budget for the project is $15,000. The council voted unanimously to give the mayor permission to renegotiate.

• Conducted the second reading of Budget Ordinance #203B to allow the city to accept $100,000 in Road Aid Funds.

• Learned that the Jenkins Police Department answered 97 complaints in November, issued 20 citations and made 16 arrests. Five of the arrests were drug related and two were for domestic violence.

• Set the January meeting for January 7 because of New Year’s Eve.

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